by Nick Spencer (Writer), Steve Lieber (Artist), Rachelle Rosenberg (Colorist)
The Story: Boomerang goes on a date and in more trouble as the other Sinister Six are the captive of the Owl.
The Review: Identity is something impossibly important for a book. In a market where there is a severe load of stories in similar settings, a title needs a hook, a style or something else in order to differentiate itself. There are plenty of zombie, super hero and post apocalyptic stories, yet there is a huge difference between title like Hawkeye and Swamp Thing, like there are differences between Sheltered and Wasteland. Some people may like a specific genre, yet there must be something different between each titles or else the interest of readers would soon become naught. Thankfully, some titles goes out of their way to be different, which may work or not depending on the angle.
Superior Foes of Spider-Man is a title that simply works very well, as its identity, style and angle of presentation are close to unique, with a specific insight on one side of the meta-human equation that doesn’t always get presented as much as it should. However, how does the adventures of a bunch of super hero losers tend to work so well in terms of entertainment?
The first and foremost area where this book excels is the humor, with a certain detachment of super heroic fares that permits for a lot of jokes that can’t necessarily be told in any sorts of books. The way Spencer is able to present Doom with ridiculous ideas without destroying the essence of the character* or how he present the pathetic life of Fred Myers, a.k.a Boomerang, is something that shows both a detachment and a certain willingness to show the more out-there elements of the Marvel universe. The problems those characters find themselves in, how their personality ends up being conflicting with their chosen profession and with each other is what makes a lot of the funny situations even funnier.
Another aspect that is certainly part of the appeal is the sentiment of imminent destruction, with a buildup that keeps on getting bigger with each issue. The level of distrust and manipulation on display here is something that is bound to explode into something, with each issue adding a layer to the potential destruction and fallout that makes this series so fascinating. With how Boomerang keeps on playing everyone, readers are expecting for something to eventually happen to him, which is something that Spencer must know about, as he keeps on setting things up to screw him over. It’s coming, yet the book keeps its readers on their toes, which is something pretty neat in itself.
Despite all this joking around, there is also a legitimate story being told here, with a lot of elements being added to the Marvel universe. Even though there is a clear emphasis to the book, there are several plot points that do warrant being invested in the protagonists and how they can get out of this situation, with twists and turns around. There might be a spotlight on Boomerang, but the other characters ends up being endearing in their lack of luck, with some of them getting a bit more focus here. Let’s just say those looking for more details on the new Beetle will end up being satisfied here, that’s for sure.
What’s also satisfying is the art of Steve Lieber, which comes off as being pretty well-suited to this title. His faces may be rough-looking sometimes, which ends up making some of the expressions a bit ugly, yet the body language fits the mood of each scenes wonderfully. There is a certain restraint in some pages, which plays off the ridiculous elements very well, like the few panels focusing on Doom’s painting, or the one panel in which Mach VIII tries to get away from Fred’s window. The lack of bigger backgrounds, scenery and precise details puts an emphasis on the more important elements, creating a certain realization on the idiocy of the elements or the situation. The panelling also helps a lot with that, with a certain visual flow that is both inventive and fast-paced, putting the motions and pacing quite well through each pages. Where Lieber seems to lose points, though, is in the lack of scenery and background in most panels. While he does seem to opt for a focus on characters instead of other elements, there is a certain lack of other elements to play the scenes and dialogue with that makes some scenes stand out a lot less in terms of visuals. Despite that, he is a solid artist for this title.
Rachelle Rosenberg is also very good here, albeit she does have some weaknesses here and there as well. The clear distinction between normal life and the meta-human side of the Marvel universe comes off as clear in her work, with a much more subdued palette and an emphasis on certain normal colors without creating great contrasts. The scenes in which Fred tries to go on a date are a perfect example of this, with the streets, stadium and apartment being rather classical in terms of colorization. The lack of hyperbolism and symbolism makes for a great case for contrasts when super heroic and villainous elements are then introduced in the tale, with their costumes and designs looking much more eccentric as a result. If there is a scene where the colorization doesn’t add much, though, it would be the interrogation scene with the rest of the Sinister Six, as the color in the background and the lack of more elements doesn’t make for a strong case in terms of visual diversity. She does try, but it ends up being a bit less striking than it needs to be.
The Conclusion: There may be some very minor quirks in the art and colorization, yet the goofiness, the humor, the dialogue and the general presentation of the book more than make up for it as the delightfully wrong adventures of the Sinister Six makes for a really great book thanks to the effort of Spencer, Lieber and Rosenberg.
-Hugo Robberts Larivière
* ”I want you to draw Doom…Like one of your French girls.” may be one of the best line uttered in this book yet.